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Berman Retreats, But Only To Regroup 231

thefinite writes "It looks like the P2P vigilante bill sponsored by Berman is going to have to be rewritten even just to be considered. A ZDNet story talks about the likelihood that the bill will get anywhere as currently written. Hopefully, the second time around will make it clear that the idea is flawed, not just the text."
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Berman Retreats, But Only To Regroup

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  • by MosesJones ( 55544 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @04:16PM (#4524741) Homepage
    You can imagine the wording now "Terrorists could use a P2P network to share information, or to co-ordinate attacks."

    Same shit different spin. I doubt they'll be watering it down, just making it more of a general threat than being specific on copyright.
  • I'm getting cynical. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by iplayfast ( 166447 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @04:17PM (#4524748)
    The problem with this type of thing, is that they get several tries at it. The first one is almost always outragous. They use that as a measuring stick. Then they start adjusting down and eventually they get a bill that passes.

    It doesn't matter if the idea is flawed or not. What matters is that the congressman get's his way or not. There are egos involved, and big money, and the responsibilites to the citizens. (Guess which of the three is most important to the congressman).

    • by iplayfast ( 166447 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @04:24PM (#4524804)
      Even worse. I'm a Canadian, so I am not affected by this stuff....


      The crappy US legislation always seems to find it's way into Canada sooner or later. Worse I can't even vote the people out who are making this stuff up.

      Sometimes it truly is like sleeping next to an Elephant. (with bad gas!)
    • by Faggot ( 614416 ) <`moc.yag' `ta' `sdaohc'> on Thursday October 24, 2002 @04:26PM (#4524832) Homepage
      Wow, Man! This Is Totally A Refreshingly Insightful And Insightfully Refreshing Indictment Of The Practices Of Elected Officials In Modern America!

      Gag me with a taser.

      p.s. iplayfasterthanyou []
    • by uncoveror ( 570620 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @04:43PM (#4524958) Homepage
      All the slashdotters in Berman's district need to mobilize, and get out the vote for his opponent. November 5, the election, is a week from tuesday.
      • I think a better solution is to lauch a PRO-Berman SPAM campaign.

        That'll piss some people off!

      • by MsGeek ( 162936 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:28PM (#4526029) Homepage Journal
        The trouble is, Berman might as well be running unopposed. His Republican opponent, David Hernandez, would rather be Mayor of the new City of the San Fernando Valley, and is spending most of his money on the race. His Libertarian opponent, Kelley Ross, doesn't stand a chance.

        I'm going to be voting for Hernandez only because I have met with him, he seems like a decent enough bloke, he's a "McCain Republican" who also cut his political teeth with Cesar Chavez, and he's also against the Berman Bill. But I do not hold much hope out for him to have any effect. Just look at the tale of the tape, courtesy of Opensecrets.Org []. Hernandez has exactly zero in his war chest, Berman has almost $1 Million left. And guess where most of that comes from? Well take a wild flying guess, folks []. Viacom and Walt Disney are his two biggest contributors.

        No matter what we do at this late date, Berman will be back, just like the freakin' Terminator, next Congress. And after the election, he won't be as kindly bent to take outside input on his precious P2P hax0r bill.

    • by shreak ( 248275 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @04:48PM (#4524993)
      That's not corruption or ego or anything else.

      Him: I'll sell you this car for $1000000
      Me: That's outrageous! I'll take it for $1
      Him: That's nuts!
      Me: Maybe we should find a middle ground.

      For the current topic:

      Their congressman: If we think someone is pirating, we get to burn down their house and roast their children over the embers!
      Our congressman: You're loopy. Anyone can copy, modify, distribute and profit from anything anywhere anytime for any reason and needs no permission whatsoever from anyone.
      Their congressman: Gak! Anarchist!
      Our congressman: Maybe we should find a middle ground.
      • ok,

        middle ground: in order to copy and distribute anything you want, you have to burn down your house and roast your children over the embers.

      • by gentlewizard ( 300741 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @05:07PM (#4525098)
        Elegantly put. Wish I had mod points today.

        The technique of introducing "straw man" legislation to see how it plays is not a bug, it's a feature. It's how the system is designed to operate, in a dialog of discovering what's important to each of the constituencies involved. At best, creative win-win solutions emerge. At worst, watered down compromises. In the middle, no action is taken and we try again next year.

        Politics isn't evil, it's life.

        Unfortunately, it's only taken me 40 years or so to figure this out...
        • The problem is that one side of the debate isn't trying to get something completely unreasonable passed alongside the other unreasonable thing. What happens in reality is that one side asks for something unreasonable, and the other side says no. They then try something slightly-less unreasonable, and that works, because it's "good politics" to compromise (even if it isn't a compromise at all). Just because your first crazy offer wasn't accepted doesn't mean the result is a "creative win-win solution" or "watered down".

          You do realize that the DMCA is a watered-down version of what the media and technology companies really wanted, right? That the PATRIOT act is a watered-down version of what the Executive branch actually wanted, right? Are these your "watered down compromises"? This is the results of this "feature"?

          It is in fact a standard practice to ask for more than you want. Each time you come back with a slightly modified proposal, the more pressure you put on your opponent to accept it. It doesn't matter if each revision does nothing to make it more palatable -- eventually the politics mandate capitulation.

          And yes, that's life. But that doesn't mean it's good.
      • Two children were walking down the street when they both spotted a cake on the sidewalk.

        The first child said "I saw it first, I should get the whole cake."

        The second child said "No, we found it together, we should split it 50/50".

        Then an adult happened by and suggested a compromise.
        The first child should get 3/4 of the cake, and the second 1/4.

        -- this is not a .sig
      • To recite a parable from Raymond Smullyan (and retold by Douglas Hofstadter): Two boys are fighting over a piece of cake. Billy says he wants it all, Sammy says they should divide it equally. An adult comes along and asks what's wrong. The boys explain, and the adult says, "You should compromise -- Billy gets three quarters, Sammy gets one quarter".

        Sadly, this is the state of current politics: that the outrageous claims are considered right alongside the fair-spirited ones.


  • by MCMLXXVI ( 601095 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @04:18PM (#4524749)
    Think about how slow the whole internet would get from this. Not only would the "good" hackers be using a ton of bandwidth but the "bad" hackers would be using even more trying to get even.
    * Note the good and bad hacker referance are in the eyes of the bill writers.
    • If they're lumping all the White and Black Hat hackers together on the "bad" side, what will the new "good" hackers be called? Coming soon to a movie studio or record label near you ... Green Hat hackers, protecting the bottom line.
  • by pheph ( 234655 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @04:20PM (#4524768) Homepage
    "Peer-to-peer networks are primarily used today for the unauthorized public distribution and reproduction of copyrighted works." -Alec French

    I'd be interested where/how they figured this. A p2p network should disperse very little information about actual distribution of copyrighted works.

    Alec French: Also, see Freenet []

    • by iSwitched ( 609716 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @04:46PM (#4524981)
      I doubt they have any real statistics at all.

      A while back I worked for a software company that specialized in data-gathering tools. The issue of copyright infringement came up alot. Our lawyers explained that the test was whether the system in question had "substantial non-infringing uses". Since a lot of post-Napster P2P networks allow generic sharing (news, chat, media of all types) one could argue that many of them meet that test.

      This completely ignores the argument that specific tools don't perform illegal acts, people do. But I guess it's oh so much harder to actually prosecute people according to real laws, when we can just make up a law du jour to go after the hardware and infrastructure. So, correct me if I'm wrong, but if their claim is accepted, and since P2P networks operate over TCP/IP, therefore TCP/IP should be illegal as well, and all DDOS attacks are hereby rendered legal and in support of the legal disruption of P2P traffic!
    • by Have Blue ( 616 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @04:49PM (#4524998) Homepage
      I'm guessing he ran Kazaa for a few minutes.

      Seriously, get real. You can claim that P2P networks have legitimate uses all you want, but trying to flat-out deny that they are used for piracy is stupid.
      • I'm really only concerned with their statement that p2p networks are 'primarily' used to infringe on copyright. Even if that is so, I'm curious how the plan to prove it. Think about it this way:
        Does the availability of copyrighted works violate copyright? No. So they're either going to use the availability as a measure or they are downloading or sharing files on KaZaA (as you mentioned), which is simple entrapment, or in the case of files only being named that of a copyrighted song, not copyright infringment at all.
      • My typewriter is a method of copyright violation, I have used it as such before.

        Ban the typewriter?

        I didn't see the Printing press banned when it was created...

        Slowing inovation to protect old economic models is never a good thing. The music industry should impliment something better than p2p if they think it's such a big threat.

        It's a fairly simple argument, the copyright is granted by the people. If the people no longer honor the copyright, the copyright is no longer granted by the people. Making the people illegal in order to keep the copyright dosen't work well does it?
  • by MCMLXXVI ( 601095 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @04:20PM (#4524773)
    Saying kids are using illeagal fireworks so we are going to use flamethrowers on the kids to disable the fireworks.
    • Re:This is like... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by entrippy ( 14141 )
      Well, no it's not. As much as we may like to stretch the analogy stick, we're talking about damage to data, not crippling humans.

      It's a big difference, both in reality and in the eyes of the law. Overwrought analogies do nothing to help anyones cause.

      It is, however, like exchanging books in libraries for "fake" books that only contain random letters, because some kids are hiding exam-answers encoded in the words.
    • Enforce the fireworks laws and reduce overpopulation in one fell swoop! I like it!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 24, 2002 @04:20PM (#4524774)
    The MPAA and RIAA are creating and marketing a bold, new superhero, The P2P Vigilante

    Press relase: "We hope to educate the youth and public of America about the dangers of P2P file sharing- in the fine tradition of propaganda through the ages, the P2P Vigliante, a young, hip, midriff-baring female superhero will deal out justice and vengance to those who would use a P2P network for evil. Which is everyone who uses a P2P network. It's, like, evil and stuff. Anyway, it's on every Tuesday night at 8 (7 Central) on the WB! Excuse me, I have to go do a few lines of coke."
  • by Palos ( 527071 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @04:20PM (#4524775)
    Since he admits that in its current form there is no way the bill would be passed, what would have to be changed to be passed?
    The article hints that one of the problems might be lack of clearly defined techniques could be used to fight a p2p node.
    Are there any "valid" techniques, at least valid as far as congress would be concerned to fight individual nodes, or the p2p networks themselves that could be used to fight against supposed violations of this bill.
    Also, does this bill specify what proof if any has to exist before these attacks could take place? Could you sue someone excerising the powers give by this if it did get passed?
    • by JordoCrouse ( 178999 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @04:44PM (#4524967) Homepage Journal
      Since he admits that in its current form there is no way the bill would be passed, what would have to be changed to be passed?

      He probably had to take out the part that said "constitution, smonstitution...."

    • by Otter ( 3800 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @05:18PM (#4525180) Journal
      Beyond what would get it passed, would you guys consider acceptable countermeasures?

      Would DOS attacks, but not intrusions, be OK? Crapflooding P2P networks with bad files? Or is the bottom line here the mindset of the Ask Slashdot questioners with problems like, "My college limits Kazaa bandwidth. What can I do about it? Isn't that the whole point of college? This is a violation of my civil rights!"

      To my mind, any active attacks on sharers should be illegal, but I have no problem with poisoning P2P networks. I'd also guess that that's a legislation that would go through.

    • "Are there any "valid" techniques, at least valid as far as congress would be concerned to fight individual nodes".

      It's called a civil suit. They've had this option from the beginning but don't want to use it. They have the tools they need they just don't want to crack down on individual users because it's bad publicity.

  • by LordHunter317 ( 90225 ) <askutt@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday October 24, 2002 @04:22PM (#4524786)
    I think the real reason it isn't happening is because Berman learned from here [] that his Musical Car horn on his nice shiny Cadallic would be outlawed. The new law will probably be ... "All devices which play digital copyrighted stuff must be regulated, except for my musical car horn."
  • It is dead. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Prince_Ali ( 614163 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @04:22PM (#4524788) Journal
    Getting a bill even considered for voting is extremely difficult. A setback this earlier is probably a death sentence. If money is greasing the wheels it can only grease so much.
    • Re:It is dead. (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by iplayfast ( 166447 )
      Really, then what happend to the Bono bill. Did it go back and forth a bunch of times? And then was passed after he nosedived into a tree whilst skiing. (Sympathy vote?)

    • Getting a bill even considered for voting is extremely difficult.
      Yet the passage of the DMCA shows that it can be done.
  • Stupid question... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PontifexPrimus ( 576159 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @04:23PM (#4524801)
    Hmm... to quote from the article:
    Berman represents California's San Fernando Valley, adjacent to Los Angeles and Hollywood's cluster of entertainment firms, and is viewed as likely to keep his job in next month's elections.
    I'm just a stupid European, but can't you guys just vote him off or something? If not, why not? Just curious...
    • His constituents (Hollywood) stand to benefit from the passage of the bill he's trying to sponsor...why would they vote him out?
    • by Meat Blaster ( 578650 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @04:38PM (#4524911)
      Theoretically, yes, he can be voted out. He is in the House of Representatives (which, along with the Senate, makes up our Legislative branch of government). While the Senate consists of two people from every state (50 states = 100 members), with each set of two people being voted upon by the entire state they represent, the House is made up of varying numbers from each state depending on the population of each state. The state is divided into districts, and each district has one member in the House that it elects.

      So, if the people in Berman's district (a relatively tiny spot of California) don't have a problem with him, or the people who run against him aren't fantastic choices, he gets back in. He's been in for twenty years (no term limits on the House or the Senate) and inertia is on his side because of things like voter apathy and lack of knowledge about the issues. Then again, Berman could be a perfectly good representative for his electorate, given the locale.

      It would be hypocritical for most people to call you a stupid European, given the fact that only around a third actually bother to vote on average here in the states (and hypocritical for me because I know next to nothing about the European system -- aren't you ruled by a queen or something? :)

      • by Otter ( 3800 )
        Then again, Berman could be a perfectly good representative for his electorate, given the locale.

        As a former constituent of his (before my block got redistricted as a token white area in Julian Dixon's fiefdom), he's wildly popular. Not because his district includes "Hollywood" but because he votes on almost all issues the way his liberal Jewish and Latino constituents want.

        The reality is that his stance on P2P networks may be wildly important to people here, but it's low on the list of priorities of the overwhelming majority of voters. It's not out of the question that they're the emotionally healthy ones.

        Anyway, the real point is that while we can't vote him in or out of office, we do get to vote on some other representative who needs to pass those bills.

    • by mikeee ( 137160 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @04:41PM (#4524948)
      Us guys, no. Congressional representation is based on winner-take-all votes for relatively small districts, rather than a proportinal system over larger areas.

      And Berman's district is essentially Hollywood. :p
    • I'm just a stupid European, but can't you guys just vote him off or something? If not, why not? Just curious...

      It wouldn't do any good. Say we wanted to vote him out so bad that we would vote for his opponent even though his opponent was an idiot too... or say his opponent died in a horrible accident. We still vote for his opponent. Berman looses the election. What happens in a democracy? The people win. America is a Republic, however. The loosing candidate in this case is appointed to an even more powerful office (Attorney General for example).

    • Its not a stupid question, it requires some *actual* knowledge of how american politics works.

      Howard Berman is the remaining guy of what used to be called the Waxman/Berman Machine. Essentially, this is the political machine that directs most of the Hollywood political contributions. There is no possiblity of him ever running in a district where he could lose and his finacial base is so strong that he could easily outspend any opponent 100 to 1. Berman is the conduit for a major portion of the party funds. He is literally undefeatable. And it is very much in the party interest to make sure the money keeps flowing so his invulnerability will remain for the forseeable future.

  • by FuzzyDaddy ( 584528 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @04:24PM (#4524803) Journal
    In fact, let's expand on it: I'd like a bill passed that would let me slash people's tires if they speed on my street.

    What's the difference? It's just me damaging someone else's property because I feel they are violating my rights. Having the government mediate in disputes is so inefficient.

  • by Meat Blaster ( 578650 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @04:24PM (#4524809)
    Then again, it's not like he's really gonna have to worry about it. His #1 source of funding is TV/Movie/Music related, he's been in office since 1982, and while he's up for reelection he isn't facing any serious competition. How democratic.
  • by taniwha ( 70410 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @04:25PM (#4524811) Homepage Journal
    "Berman represents California's San Fernando Valley..."

    Which of course isn't so much Hollywood as it is porn .... he's not really worried so much about the Lord of the Rings 4" as he is "Debbie does Dallas #76" ... which is probabloy much more likely to be on some p2p network anyway ....

  • Bad precident. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jsav40 ( 614902 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @04:26PM (#4524824)
    ""Unfortunately, theft of copyrighted works is the predominant use of peer-to-peer networks today," French said. "Peer-to-peer networks are primarily used today for the unauthorized public distribution and reproduction of copyrighted works."

    If this legislation does go through imagine the potential impact on the open source movement...

    It will be all to easy to apply the same logic to Open Source developers/providers adding another avenue of attack to corporations that feel threatened by open source...
    • How is this "informative"? It gives absolutely no information as to how legislation against peer-to-peer networking would impact Open Source developers or providers. Seriously, did RedHat start using Kazaa to distribute its ISOs while I wasn't paying attention?

  • by tps12 ( 105590 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @04:26PM (#4524825) Homepage Journal
    This legislation served an important purpose in pointing some things out to those of us who go through our lives wearing pink-tinted glasses (I mean optimists, not gay people).

    What it boils down to is that we anti-copyright crusaders have always maintained that digital "media" is just a bunch of 1's and 0's. A file is no more than a certain number, and how can one person or corporation own a number? To me, this has always been an extremely pursuasive argument. So now let's look at hacking over a network. What is it? Well, really it's just 1's and 0's being sent to your computer on the network. Some specific number, or series of numbers, is going to break your computer or make it impossible to use (DOS attack), but is the solution to outlaw that number altogether? In my opinion, the record industry shouldn't need this law, because all computer hacking should be legal.

    How could this work, though? Well, first of all, TCP/IP has got to go. It doesn't have any authentication or security built in to it, and it's obvious that it's flawed. We need to redesign the Internet and the protocol it uses, not just to increase the address space as is being done in IP2, but to make hacking technically impossible. Then, legislation or no, we will finally all be safe.
    • What it boils down to is that we anti-copyright crusaders have always maintained that digital "media" is just a bunch of 1's and 0's. A file is no more than a certain number, and how can one person or corporation own a number?

      Someone has recently discovered that there exists a prime number which, when parsed in a certain way, yields the source code to DeCSS. Since it is illegal to distribute DeCSS, people have begun distributing the prime number.

      If it becomes a passable defense that distributing a prime number can not be illegal, then all the P2P haxxors have to do is find prime numbers which can be parsed to yield Adobe Photoshop, Maya, Quake 3, or whatever.

      • If it becomes a passable defense that distributing a prime number can not be illegal

        The parser would likely be an application (not being done manually), and then made illegal instead.
        • How exactly would it be illegal though? You pass in a number, any number, and it spits out a bunch of bytes. By itself, the parser does absolutely nothing illegal. The only thing that can be illegal is the parser with the number. So just distribute them in two different places. Interestingly, you could try saying something to the effect of: "Download the parser here []. By the way, it is illegal to enter the number 8473487123761348761984614 into the parser."
    • > digital "media" is just a bunch of 1's and 0's. A file is no more than a certain number, and how can one person or corporation own a number?


      And a novel is just a bunch of letters in a particular order.

      And a movie is just a bunch of images displayed in a particular sequence. The images, of course, are just a bunch of beams of colored light that are in a particular order.

      And a song is just a bunch of circles and sticks drawn on a handful of parallel lines.

      Hell, any product you can name is just a bunch of elemental atoms arranged in a particular formation.

      Reasoning like this is why the pro-IP lobby has gotten so out-of-hand.
  • Out of touch... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lynx_user_abroad ( 323975 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @04:26PM (#4524836) Homepage Journal
    Here's one of the more poignant quotes, showing just how far out of touch these people are:

    Unfortunately, theft of copyrighted works is the predominant use of peer-to-peer networks today," French said. "Peer-to-peer networks are primarily used today for the unauthorized public distribution and reproduction of copyrighted works.

    In one sense, every communication between two systems is peer-to-peer, including everything from getting email to browsing the web. Unless you want to call one of the systems a "server", and then I guess it's okay.

    It seems to me that a peer-to-peer network exists whenever one system talks to another. Are VOIP telephones part of a p2p net? Do I own a peer-to-peer network when I print to my printer? What if I print to the parallel port?

    So, when my computer sync's my calendar with my PDA, I guess I'm doing something bad?

  • by VitrosChemistryAnaly ( 616952 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @04:27PM (#4524842) Journal
    When I first read the headline I thought it said "Batman Retreats, But Only To Regroup"

    Then I realized that it couldn't be true 'cause Batman never retreats.

    Okay now that that's over it's time for me to actually read the article. Check for intelligent post later
  • Be Very Afraid... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dr. Bent ( 533421 ) <> on Thursday October 24, 2002 @04:29PM (#4524854) Homepage
    From the article:
    "All fair use is not piracy, but neither is all piracy fair use," Mehlman said.
    NO fair use is piracy, that's why it's called FAIR use! The two are mutually exclusive...either you're breaking the law, or you aren't. This is not a good sign. If assistant Secretary of Commerce doesn't understand this, what hope do we have for the general public?
    • by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @04:40PM (#4524934) Homepage Journal
      Oh, I suspect Melman understands the difference perfectly well; he, Berman, Valenti, Rosen, et bloody al are hoping that everyone else won't. If they can start blurring the distinction in people's minds (which is kind of like blurring the distinction between war and peace, freedom and slavery, or up and down -- but those have never been too hard to sell either) then Berman's bill and other repulsive pieces of legislation will become more acceptable. These people are smart. Never forget that. Evil, worthless, useless -- but smart.
    • by Have Blue ( 616 )
      Don't forget that no piracy is fair use either. That's something to keep in mind no matter which side of the argument you are on.
    • Yeah, that line jumped out at me too. That was either a thoughtless wording or a betrayal of more evil schemes to come. We shall soon find out.

      This is exactly the sort of definition meddling that propagandists have used for as long as propaganda has existed. The word "hacker" has been effectively redefined to include a connotation of devious intentions. The word "gay" has been redefined to refer to homosexualality. "Peer-to-peer filesharing" has been redefined by the IP industry as thievery and piracy. Now it appears that they would like to redefine "fair use" and "piracy" as a sort of overlapping venn diagram, with a middle ground which is actually both piracy and fair use. Then they can say, "If fair use includes piracy, then it must be bad." And the uninformed will say, "Hey, that makes sense. Down with Fair Use!" L. Lessig will then have to add another 10 min to his presentations explaining why the intersection of fair use and piracy = 0.

      Let's hope it was merely a thoughtless wording...

    • by dcgaber ( 473400 )
      Don't be so quick to dismiss Ass't Sec. Mehlman. He is a very sharp guy, and has a good background in tech.

      I was not at this event, but I was told that he made the case that the content folks are going way overboard, specifically bringing up the example of amazing DVD sales for Monster's Inc when this movie has been floating on the Internet since its theatrical release. These are the types of comments we need from our government officials. So if he said that, I assume it is as a rhetorical device and not a legal construction (keep in mind, an action can be fair use or piracy depending on the context). That Monsters Inc. example is great, very similar to the Dear Colleague Letter (letters members of Congress send around to all other offices) deploring the record piracy of spider man before the theatrical release, and leaving out the crucial fact of how it broke ALL box office records.

      The pro-consumer community can rattle this off all day long, but when we start hearing it from our government, it lets the RIAA/MPAA know that they do not have a free pass to spread their rhetorical nonsense (or if you prefer...bald faced lies).

      Damn, now by commenting, I forfeit all rights to mod this discussion, what a stupid policy!
  • Constitution? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jaybird144 ( 558619 ) <jaybird144@gPASC ... m minus language> on Thursday October 24, 2002 @04:34PM (#4524883)
    I may be wrong, but isn't this some form of "unreasonable search and seizure"? I don't think that any music company should be allowed to practice vigilante justice, no matter how many of their copyrighted works are in jeopardy - especially if it violates my fourth amendment rights.
    • Re:Constitution? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by stratjakt ( 596332 )
      No, the internet is a public forum by definition.

      The analogy would be selling/buying heroin in an open air drug market, out on the street. If a cop happens to be standing there watching you, the information he gathers is perfectly legitimate, even though he is not involved in the transaction.

      If the sale goes down in your living room, and the cop is peeking through the window - then it's thrown out in court.

      Of course the 4rth amendment protects you from the state, not from private interests.
    • You and your cused logic.

      It was going to be so fun. Like a big treasure hunt.

      I'm puting an orginal copyrighted haiku in all my server ident and hello strings. You know just in case they change their minds.

  • by WalletBoy ( 555942 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @04:39PM (#4524917)
    It's about time Berman gets taken to task. Trek has been awful for years under his reign.
  • Batman! (Score:2, Funny)

    by ljaguar ( 245365 )
    Am I the only who read

    Batman Retreats, But Only To Regroup?

    "Holy low self-esteem batman! I'm a side kick in my own fantasy!"
    • Maybe that's how Berman got elected in the first place. . . people just misread his name on the ballot. This is Hollywood we're talking about, after all. . .

  • by Tsali ( 594389 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @04:41PM (#4524941)
    ... that whenever someone brings one of these types of articles up regarding fair use that you never hear anyone on the other side of the debate?

    No one. I can't find it, unless they are modded down to oblivion.

    Maybe no one really likes it and the big corporate types don't visit Slashdot.

    • by jimsum ( 587942 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @05:40PM (#4525330)
      Who is going to argue against fair use?

      Who thinks it isn't OK to record a CD you own onto a cassette so you can listen to it in your car? Or onto an MP3 player so you can listen on the bus?

      Who thinks they shouldn't be able to make a backup copy? That it would be better if you had to buy a new copy if you lose the original?

      I find it hard to believe that anyone would think that they would be better off giving up their rights so that a big company can make more profits at their expense.

      Now, there are those that argue that PIRACY is bad, or even that piracy is so bad that eliminating fair use is a reasonable solution. I think the reason you don't see more people arguing these points is that there is no evidence that they are true -- quite the contrary.
  • by Error27 ( 100234 ) <error27 AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday October 24, 2002 @04:45PM (#4524975) Homepage Journal
    A Wild West aproach to internet justice would be great.

    Instead of throwing lawsuits around just bring in the programmers and attack the networks with technology. This way if you want to create a network all you need is a few great ideas and some determination... As it is p2p programmers must compete against corporations based on how much they can pay a lawyer.

    Unfortunately, I suspect doubt p2p programmers will not be allowed to automate counter attacks against attackers...

    So basically the idea is crap until that gets changed.

    PS. One idea that's related to this is that we could solve minor disagreements between parties by giant robot battles. This would save millions in tax payer dollars.

    • A Wild West aproach to internet justice would be great.

      It actually may be in a way. If this guy [] could have a similar right by law to launch a DoS attack on eBay for falsely accusing him of stealing someone else's copyright and thereby depriving him of potential revenues... ah wait... it's "We, the Corporations" not "We, the People".

      I'm not saying this is the solution; just saying corporations get protection, ordinary people get crap!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 24, 2002 @04:46PM (#4524982)
    I'm confused. I'm not big on corporations or industry groupings, but even from pro-corporate types, this calls into some fundamental questions on the fairness within a marketplace.

    From the aticle:

    'Striking a middle-of-the-road tone, Mehlman urged Hollywood and Silicon Valley "to cooperate" over finding technological solutions to protect copyrighted content without additional government intervention. "All fair use is not piracy, but neither is all piracy fair use," Mehlman said.'

    This hints at a threat, however small. DRM or else.

    How did one industry's problem become the other? CDs are inherently hackable. They are released by the copyright/media trade associations. Some of them are protected under trade secrets or licensed. DVDs were released with flaws that were cracked by teenagers (not that teenagers are not brilliant, just that they were not privy to industry secrets when they did this).

    Normally, if you put out a flawed product, that's the originator's problem and liability to handle.

    The technology companies did not release these flaws products. So why is it their responsibility to bear the weight, both financial and legal, to fix the flaws or find solutions to get around flaws that another group introduced (some knowingly)?

    While I understand laws like these is the nature of politics, but this is utterly fucked up. If the law passes, marketplace accountability goes out the door (again). One industry gets hammered by another bigger industry.

    ERISA was to protect employee benefits yet yielded a nasty turn with HMOs. Luxury taxes wanted to stick it to the rich yet destroyed the yachting industry, which the US has never recovered. Isn't this another law of unintended consequences which is going to really benefit no one? (even the RIAA, because people just won't want music anymore if they can't play it on what they want to; I don't use P2P networks, but I haven't bought a CD for like nearly 2 years because I'm watching them fight over this crap)
  • Witch Hunt? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DSL-Admin ( 597132 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @04:47PM (#4524987)
    Am I the only one who sees the similarity to the modern Anti-Terrorism Plan and the old Salem Witch Hunts? Now they have hotlines and numbers to call in if you suspect some one is involved in Terrorist Activities, or other likewise mischief. So, how are we, the supposed great nation, going to fall back to the Witch Hunts by fingering somebody a Terrorist.... Hey!, I saw that guy wearing a white robe, he's a terrorist.. I saw that lady acting suspicous,, she's an Al-Qaida member.... We were all tought of the attrocities in Salem and other locations for supposed Witches, and now we are doing the same thing again.. How many innocent people have been killed by Terrorism this year, last year, all years?.. How many innocents will be killed, or imprisoned for life because of Anti-Terrorism?? Hopefully our elected officials will be wise enough to see what's going on, and to stop accusing everything of being a "Terrorist" network or activitiy.
  • by lazlo ( 15906 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @04:53PM (#4525021) Homepage
    In general, I'd have to say we've got a fairly cool system of government. The constitution is really clever in many ways, and the ideas that the US were founded on were definitely revolutionary. But, like any complex-but-good idea, there are problems in the first few drafts. One of those is this:

    The Constitution of the United States of America is, by its own declaration, the supreme law of the land. It defines, among other things, the Supreme Court to be the highest court in the land. So one would suspect that if a person were to be found by the highest court in the land to have violated, beyond a shadow of a doubt, with willful premeditation, that supreme law of the land, that the punishment they would be sentenced to would be severe in the extreme.

    One would be wrong.

    Take, as an excellent example, the first ten amendments to the Constitution, often referred to as the Bill of Rights. They are powerfully and clearly worded. They say such things as "Congress shall make no law which..." and "The Right of the People [...] shall not be infringed." But what if congress does make such a law? What if the rights of the people are infringed? It happens all too often. There are laws passed by congress that clearly and blatantly ignore these amendments. In many ways, it's much like civil disobedience, but somewhat different. I shall call it federal disobedience. Sometimes these violations are so obvious that they are seen to be so not only by me and every other citizen, but by the Supreme Court itself. And the people who originally perpetrated this crime, the senators and congressmen who proposed, supported, amended, and ultimately voted to accept these laws are not held accountable. They are not fined. They are not imprisoned. They are not prevented in any way from committing the same crime again. They are left in the position that they started in, with the full means, motive, and opportunity to become repeat offenders. If I were to break a local parking ordinance, I might have to pay $50 or so. If, on the other hand, I get myself elected to public office, and once in that public office, if I blatantly disobey the supreme law of the land, the fine that I face is exactly nothing. That is horribly, horribly wrong.
    • Indeed, Congress does make such laws. And, in theory, there should be three 'stops' on Congress overstepping their power.

      First, there's the People. We have the power to vote Bad Legislators out of Congress every two years. The problem here is that there's no shortage of voters who are lazy, ill-informed, easily hoodwinked, or just incompetent. And I haven't even gotten into corruption at the ballot box.

      Then, we've got the President, who has the power to veto any bill that comes his way. Unfortunately, for this to work, the President has to have a strong interest in upholding the Constitution. An interest above and beyond any desire he may have to increase his personal stock of political credit or power. Also, Congress has a habit of getting bad laws passed as 'riders' on legislation that's good, or even downright necessary.

      Finally, there's the Judiciary. As you say, the Constitution is worded very clearly on matters of personal rights. Politicians have found a way around this, though, as well. Since the days of FDR, at least, it's become a tactic for 'progressives' and 'activists' who view the Constitution as an unnecessary obstacle to push for the appointment of 'progressive' judges. Judges who have no qualms about interpreting the law to say something it doesn't actually say. With the cooperation of such a judge, laws can be twisted in ways that no elected government official would dare try.

      As you say, the Constitution is the Supreme law of the land. But it's a unique sort of law. Rather than binding the people, the intent of the framers was to both create and bind government in the same document. There are only three crimes mentioned in the original Constitution for which an individual can be tried: counterfeit, piracy (Arrr!), and treason.

      Every elected representative takes an oath to serve and protect the nation, and to uphold the Constitution. If you ask me, the breaking of this oath is, in itself, an act which may be called treason. But for all crimes, before someone can be held accountable, someone has to call them on it.

      So, how many of us are going to hold our representatives to their oaths this Nov. 5th? We'll have to see.
  • It's just a job... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dcavanaugh ( 248349 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @04:53PM (#4525026) Homepage
    Berman works for his employers (the entertainment industry), who have him stationed in Washington, almost like a consultant/outsourcing kind of deal.

    His job is to push custom-designed legislation, as designated by his employer. He may realize it's dead-on-arrival. He scores brownie points for making the sales pitch, even if he can't "close the deal".

    Think of your job. Haven't we all been involved in some sort of management-led initiative that we were less-than-thrilled about? I can think of a handful of instances, and I shed no tears when such things crash and burn.

    Berman, Fritz, and others are paid to push these "suicide bomber" initiatives, in search of a "compromise" that is pretty much the real target to begin with.

    Personally, I can't wait for the first wave of P2P vigilantes. The reprisals ought to be spectacular. The whole concept of a technologically-challenged industry battling against the world's top hackers is like Saddam Hussein sending the Iraqi navy to invade New York City. The RIAA battleship will be on the ocean floor, US law regarding the Internet will be as meaningless as a UN resolution, the net result being freedom through anarchy.
    • by wiswaud ( 22478 )

      That's just _WRONG_, it's so wrong!

      The entertainment industry execs each get ONE (1) vote because they each are one citizen, not 1e6 because they each gave 1e6 $$$ to the campaign!!!

      Who are his employers????
      It's the people, stupid!!!!!!

      This is so wrong.

      Don't reply telling me "you're an idealist, THIS is how it really works". I know, i know it does! Your comment reflects the implied reality of the situation, but the paragraph comparing it to our job is SO bad... there's no way you can even suggest that it's the same thing, there's no way the congressman should be allowed to think like that, and you shouldn't encourage him.
      We _are_ being paid by our employers. If the employer does something truely illegal, you should report him, but sometimes, true, we might do something borderline shaky that we don't approve. But it's the job, and he's paying us.
      But the officials are paid by us, by taxes. The industry pays taxes too, true, but the officials aren't elected with votes proportional to taxes paid, they're elected by votes coming from every citizen who does vote.

      This bill is so wrong, i wouldn't know where to start; there just isn't ANY way it can be spun to show that it's needed for the economy or to protect you americans.

      I'm from Montreal, so what do i care?
      If those sorts of bills pass down south, the pression will be tremendous up here too.
      +, i care about you :)

      I'm sure you don't think it's ok, no more than i do, and i'm not implying you sold your soul... i just had to react to how wrong it felt reading your comment :)
  • Imagine a hacker posts on a newsgroup or web page something about RIAA and includes many notices that this document may not be stored or used by RIAA. RIAA reads it.

    Hacker attempts to retrieve his copyrighted material by disrupting communications to/fro RIAA computers using a DDOS. If he's caught, he uses this as a defense.
  • AFAIK, everyone can be considered a copyright holder, just by posting here, writing out a grocery list, writing in a journal, humming a random tune, doodling on a napkin.

    If you were to put all the crap you make on a webpage like rs/cantreverseenginner.htm
    you could basically assume that some one had 'broken your security' and start searching p2p networks for anything called: index.html, picture.gif, song.mp3, ect.

    Then D0S everyone you see. They all *could* have your files.

    Yes, this is stupid. But that's what they want. Of course, it will be changed to 'Real' copyright owners (read XXAA) and exclude you, but hey, thats how Corporate Congress works.

  • by albat0r ( 526414 ) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @05:23PM (#4525222)
    Why should they be allowed to make justice themself?
    Am I allowed to burn your house if you've stolen something from me?
    Even if you kill my wife & kids & parents I'm not allowed to do anything against you!

    I thought that the great justice system exist exactly for that.

    So some peoples are stealing their property? Sue them! Bring them to court! But please don't start shooting at them!

    If they can have the right to make their own justice, I want that right too!